The master of frittatas who taught me everything I know, my Grandma Stella would make a simple version of one every few days. She’d let the vegetables roll down from her fingers into a little pool of olive oil in the pan, cook them until tender, then add eggs and sometimes a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano. Unlike the American brunch versions of frittata, which are stacked high like deep-dish pies, Grandma’s were thin, rarely using more than a handful of eggs and relying on flipping the frittata in the pan rather than roasting or broiling it. In this variation, which you can finish in the oven for ease, I add a touch of thinly sliced garlic and black pepper for a little more depth. When it’s done and cooled slightly, I sometimes drape the top with torn, oil-packed anchovies. It’s meant to be a delicate dish, barely thicker than the tender stem broccoli.
Tenderstem broccoli frittata with torn, oil-packed anchovies or grated cheese
Serves 6 to 8
6 large eggs
freshly ground black pepper
1 large (255g) bunch tender stem broccoli, ends trimmed, thick pieces halved lengthwise
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling, if desired
1 medium garlic clove, thinly sliced
anchovies in oil, or a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or feta cheese, for topping (optional)
If baking the frittata, Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Meanwhile, set a medium pot of water – large enough to fit all the tender stem broccoli – over high heat to boil.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs well. Season with about ? tsp of salt and a generous pinch of pepper and set aside.
Set a large strainer in the sink. Once the pot of water is boiling rapidly, season it generously with salt and add the broccoli. Cook until the colour is bright green and the stalks are slightly tenderised but still have good crunch, about 2½ minutes. Immediately strain and run under cold water until cool.
In a large (30.5cm) non-stick ovenproof pan over medium-high heat, combine the olive oil and garlic. Heat until the garlic just begins sizzling, about 1 minute. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the broccoli and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing the vegetables once or twice, until lightly coated in the oil, about 30 seconds.
Beat the eggs once more and pour them into the pan around and between the broccoli, tilting the pan and moving the eggs with a flexible spatula to fill the pan evenly. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 1 minute, all the while creating small holes in the bottom of the frittata with the spatula so more of the egg hits the bottom of the pan.
If finishing the frittata in the oven, bake until the eggs are just set and slightly puffed at the top and not too browned underneath, 10-12 minutes. Alternatively, to cook the frittata completely on the stovetop, let the frittata continue cooking in the skillet until mostly set. Slide the partially cooked frittata onto a large flat plate. Place the empty, overturned skillet on top. Overturn the plate and pan in one swift motion to release the frittata back into the pan. Continue cooking on the second side until just cooked through in the centre, 1-2 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the oven or stovetop and immediately use the spatula to loosen the frittata from the pan and slide it onto a large serving plate. (This prevents the bottom from over-browning and the frittata from shrinking.) Sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste – remember, the anchovies will be salty (if using).
Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with coarsely torn or chopped anchovies or drizzled very lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with cheese, as desired.
Extracted from Piatti: Plates and platters for sharing, inspired by Italy by Stacy Adimando (Chronicle Books, approx €26). Photographs by Linda Pugliese.
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